It is a
cold November morning, and you are in your favorite tree on a remote oak ridge. You become
aware of the unmistakable sound of a deer running in the dry leaves.
a mature doe runs up over the side of the ridge you are perched on. You
immediately notice that her tail is bowed in an unnatural manner. As you slowly
begin to stand, she passes under your stand and stops about 20 yards behind
you. She then turns and begins watching her back trail.
just in time to see a massive non-typical trot up over the ridge, following the
smelly doe?s trail. His rack is enormous! The huge whitetail turns broadside
and stops. You slowly raise your rangefinder: It shows the buck to be at 33
yards. You can tell that he is not going to stand long. You must shoot now.
which sight pin do you use? The 35-yard pin . . . no, the 30-yard pin, you tell
yourself. No, he’s closer to 35 yards. I’ll use that pin. But then, as you
begin to aim, you question yourself again. Where do I place the pin on his
chest? A little high? No, low. You can’t think! Too late, he?s on the move
buck turns, quartering toward you. Now you’re really getting excited. As he
closes the distance, you try to settle yourself down. Stay calm . . . stay
calm! He’s now walking by about 25 yards away. Do you shoot? Do you try to stop
him? You decide to shoot. How much do I lead him? you ask yourself. Too late,
he’s back in cover.
know it, the buck has turned broadside and is walking through a 4-foot-wide
opening 17 yards away. You want to shoot, but you’re still wondering, How much
do I lead him? You’re not sure, so you decide to try to stop him. Should I
grunt or whistle? You grunt . . . but he doesn?t stop. He did not hear it!
Before you can grunt louder, he again enters the cover.
hold your bow drawn any longer, so you let down. Staying in cover, the buck
moves past your stand and joins the friendly doe. You are about to panic! You
cannot get your eyes off his enormous rack. He is going to get away! you tell
yourself as the couple start moving off.
finally stop in a clearing. The buck stands guard as the doe starts to munch on
acorns. A check through your rangefinder shows 43 yards. You ask yourself, Can
I make a shot at that distance? You decide to try.
draw and start to aim, you realize your last pin is set for 40 yards. As you
try and settle the 40-yard pin, you begin to wonder how far over the massive
animal?s chest to aim. Too late, the doe has had enough of the white oak?s
fruit, and both deer move off.
buck was a 230-inch non-typical: the first Boone and Crockett whitetail you
have ever seen in the wild, and perhaps the last you ever will. You had several
opportunities but were unable to close the deal. What happened? What went
got away for the same reason many trophies escape close calls each year: The
hunter was not mechanically and mentally prepared for the shot opportunities he
had. The hunter had to try to reason under a lot of pressure. This cost him
time he instead should have been able to use to aim and release his arrow.
we as hunters might never be faced with all these scenarios at once. However,
we could be faced with any one or combination of them at any given time while
bowhunting. This dilemma is what Part 2, Shot Preparation, is intended to help
you with. Hopefully, after you have read this section you will know exactly
what to do when confronted with any of these scenarios ? without having to
think the situation over when the buck is nearby. When you can do this, you are
prepared for the moment of truth. While hunting, you can sit for hours and
visualize how the shot opportunity will present itself.
it should be noted that the shot opportunity seldom, if ever, happens the way
we think or hope it will. This is why it is important to be prepared to take
the shot in as many different situations as possible. In this section we will
study both the mechanical and mental part of shot preparation and learn to put
what we have studied in Part 1 into effective use.
Even if you hunt in a great area, chances at big bucks are too rare to squander. Being mechanically and mentally prepared to deliver the arrow on target is critical to your hopes of success.
If you are
not mechanically set up to take a shot at any reasonable distance, you are not
ready to bowhunt. In Chapter 3 we will look at the mechanical part of aiming,
which is sight-pin setting. I believe most bowhunters know the basics of how to
set the sight pins on their bow. However, I feel a large majority of them
really do not understand how their sight pins should be set to give them the greatest
probability of making a good shot at any given distance.
haphazardly set our pins for general even distances and think we are ready for
any shot opportunity we might face. The nature of the bow demands a precise
aiming system. The low velocity and high trajectory path of the arrow, caused
by the law of motion and the law of gravity, make our sport what it is. Call it
good or call it bad, but there is no escaping it. There is no getting around
the need to aim differently at virtually any distance the intended target might
In this chapter, I will reveal a sight-setting and aiming system I have worked
out over several years of trial and error. I believe this system is as simple
as it can be with as few variables as possible, and yet it covers any shot
situation you might find yourself in while bowhunting whitetails. Once you have
learned and have mechanically set up this system, you will be prepared for a
shot at any distance out to your predetermined maximum distance. Of course,
your skill as an archer will play a major part as to what the end result of the
shot then will be.
Over the years, I have missed my fair share of monster bucks. I would gladly
trade the deer I have had within 20 yards and not harvested for those I have
taken. These missed shots have caused me to take a hard look at why we miss.
been my observation that by far the majority of “chip” shots are
missed high. A close examination of high misses over the years has helped me
realize there are several reasons for this. As we get into this study, we will
look at these reasons and see how we can correct the problem by the way we set
our sight pins.
4, we will take a closer look at exactly where to aim on the deer?s body at a
given distance. In trophy whitetail bowhunting, not only do Sir Isaac Newton?s
laws enter into play, the nature of our quarry can also cause problems. When
mature bucks are cruising for does, one can be standing in front of you before
you know it. We must know before this happens where to aim on the deer?s body
to give us the greatest margin for error. Many hunters simply place the sight
pin somewhere behind the buck?s shoulder and release. This point of aim is not
exact enough. In Chapter 4, we will fine-tune our point of aim on a target
In this chapter, we will also consider what to do when a target deer is moving
past our stand. We are many times confronted with a buck that won’t stand still
for us. We must have a game plan in place before this happens. In the hunt
described in the introduction to Part 1, the big non-typical was walking when I
shot him. I did not have to try to reason under the pressure of the moment
where to aim, because I was mechanically and mentally prepared for the shot
situation. I knew beforehand where to aim on a walking deer at that distance.
While hunting mature bucks during the rut, things can happen really fast. A
cruising buck or a buck chasing a doe can appear out of thin air and just as
quickly disappear. You must be prepared to react quickly and correctly with
moving game, or the opportunity of a lifetime could be lost. Because of the
slow speed of an arrow, moving game presents a need for a lot of aiming
variables, depending on the distance and speed of the target. In the second
part of Chapter 4 we will take a close look at what to do when confronted with
walking and running deer.
Trying to arrow a big buck presents us with another problem: that dreaded brain
cancer called “buck fever.” By the time a hunter has recovered from
his “brain-lock,” in many cases the buck is gone. Worse than taking
no action at all, the hunter might make the terrible mistake of spooking the
buck or, far worse still, wounding him.
Uncertainty will many times lead to panic and then to mistakes. On the other
hand, being mentally and mechanically prepared for any shot situation can make
all the difference in the world. It will allow the hunter to react calmly and
correctly when the long-awaited moment of truth presents itself.
bowhunter’s woods are beset with perils, the worst of which are in his own
mind. A mature buck is full of greatness and majestic confidence. It shows in
his body posture and in the way he moves. Such confidence can be overpowering
to the hunter, causing him to feel inadequate. This can be the final blow to
already weakened knees. In seconds the deer can beat a year of practice and
preparation without even knowing you were there. This, my friend, is the power
of a mature whitetail.” Bobby Worthington
Trophy Whitetails, published by North American Whitetail magazine)